Hampton Falls, NH – August 11, 2012 – There were four exciting show jumping classes hosted today at The Jumper Classic®, presented by Fidelity Investments® and Audi of America. In the $12,000 Speed Derby, Jeffery Welles of Brewster, NY, and Laracon, owned by Amanda Gunthel, were fastest for first place.

Located in the beautiful town of Hampton Falls, NH, at the Silver Oak Equestrian Center, The Jumper Classic is New England’s premier equestrian event. This elite level competition attracts the country’s top riders, past Olympians and local equestrians. The Jumper Classic runs through Sunday, August 12, with the highlight class, the $75,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix, on Sunday. Opening ceremonies tomorrow will be begin at 12 p.m., followed by the $15,000 Equine Insurance Speed Stake presented by Great American Insurance Group and the $75,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix. 

The Coldwell Bankers Previews Grand Prix Field was the perfect setting for today’s $12,000 Speed Derby. Course designer Olaf Petersen, Jr. took advantage of the natural obstacles, size of the grass field, and stellar footing to make an interesting, fun, and challenging track. Fifteen entries attempted the faults converted course, but it was Jeffery Welles who recorded the fastest round for the win. He rode Amanda Gunthel’s Laracon, an eight-year-old gelding, to a very fast, clean round in 86.446 seconds. Leslie Howard and her derby veteran Lennox Lewis 2 were the early leaders with a final time of 86.861 seconds, which finished second. Howard and her second horse, Tammy Marek’s Feeling, had the faster time of 85.302 seconds, but with four faults added, their final time of 89.302 seconds placed them third.

Click above to watch an interview with Jeffery Welles about his speed derby win.

Laracon, last year’s 7 Year Old Young Jumper Final winner at the Hampton Classic, has been competing in the Adult Jumpers and transitioned to the Low Amateur-Owner Jumpers with owner Amanda Gunthel. He and Welles won Wednesday’s 1.20m class on the field, but today’s derby was still a step up for the talented young horse.

“This definitely was bigger than what he’s been doing, so he was really good,” Welles agreed. “He’s only eight years old, so he’s never really done a bank like that. He was great about it. He just has such a great heart. Last year in the Hamptons we did the water and the liverpool, but he’s just such a good hearted animal. He just galloped up the bank and galloped down it.  We have Southampton coming up and this is a great lead-in for a lot of horses. The nice thing was that he got to jump in a 1.20m class out here in the beginning of the week and get accustomed to being on the grass.”

Jeffery Welles and Laracon

“I thought it was a great course. (Olaf) used the whole field and the footing was excellent today,” Welles pointed out. “On grass, there’s a couple of rollbacks where you have to hold the horses together because they were slipping a little bit, which is normal, but I think the rain helped. He liked it anyway. He was really getting a lot of spring from the ground.”

While Welles had a gallop throughout, he wasn’t sure if he could beat Howard’s time. “I felt pretty fast. I left a stride out. I got a good gallop to the water, and in between the two jumps in the grob, I did six strides and most people did seven,” he explained. “He’s just got a very big gallop. I felt like I caught a really great one to the last jump. I was happy about that!”

Jeffery Welles and Laracon in their winning presentation with Bridget Kearns of The Jumper Classic

The $5,000 SmartPak High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic was one of the feature classes of the afternoon. There were 17 entries, and five returned for the jump-off. The pacesetter was Margaret Bopp of Greenwich, CT, on Nerval de la Batia, an 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding by Gipsy de St. Martin. They went clear and set the time to beat at 39.401 seconds, which no one was able to catch. Second place went to Chloe Reid and Damascus, who were clear in 39.654 seconds. Greer Hindle and Jagger placed third as the only other double clear in 40.177 seconds.

Bopp has ridden Nerval de la Batia for three years, and last year were ranked third in the High Amateur division of the Eastern Conference in the Show Jumping Hall of Fame rankings. “He’s always been a fabulous horse for me. He’s given me confidence and I’ve been able to move up from the Lows to the Highs. He is one of the most pleasurable horses to ride. He is bigger and a little bit of a slower type. I always have to work on myself to keep a forward pace, but he listens so well. He always tries very hard for me.”

Margaret Bopp and Nerval de la Batia

She added, “I’ve been doing some smaller grand prix with him. We’re going to Fieldstone next week and will show in the grand prix. This was a good introduction to that.”

Going into today’s jump-off, Bopp was focused on keeping her pace. “I just wanted to have a forward, positive round. He loves doing jump-offs. He was a really good boy. I actually got a really nice turn back to the plank, which helped me out,” she described. “Typically that is my problem. I would slow down and really take my time (in the turns), so I really challenged myself this time and it worked out for the best. I just galloped down to the last jump and he was there.”

Bopp wasn’t sure her time would hold up through the next four rounds. “I was watching and I was pretty confident, but then my friend Zach (Libes) went and I know he’s on a pretty quick horse. I thought if anyone, he was the one who was going to beat me. He probably would have, had he not had four faults, so I got lucky,” she remarked.

Of her win, she said, “It’s very exciting. To win anything is really exciting and it boosts my confidence.”

Margaret Bopp and Nerval de la Batia with Annie Connolly of SmartPak and her father, Walter Bopp.

There were 39 entries in the $5,000 Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic. Six of those were able to find the clear path to the jump-off. The first to return were Natalie Horween of Barrington, IL, and Catina del Masset, a 11-year-old Holsteiner mare by Catano They set the winning time at 35.864 seconds, which could not be beat. Second place went to Francesca Bolfo and U2, who were also clean in 37.411 seconds. The final double clear round was recorded by Zachary Libes on Barisme VDL, who had a time of 38.835 seconds.

 Natalie Horween and Catina del Masset

Horween, who just graduated from Indiana University, recently found Catina del Masset in Spain with her trainer Chris Kappler and this is only their second show together. “I just get along with her really well. It’s been a pretty instant match,” Horween said. “She’s great; she’s really soft and she knows what she’s doing. She’s going to teach me a lot and I can just learn to get to where I need to be and have her help me.”

Going into the jump-off, Horween wanted to be “smooth and consistent.” She explained, “I’m just getting to know her. I wanted a nice pace and to find the strides that Chris gave me. I wanted to let her figure it out and see, so that I wasn’t interfering so much.”

Natalie Horween and Catina del Masset in their awards presentation with The Jumper Classic’s Bridget Kearns

Horween wasn’t sure her time would hold up. “I knew I was fast, but I didn’t think I was that fast,” she expressed. “She’s got a nice stride, so it always feels like you’re going fast.”

Ahmed Alali made his trip to The Jumper Classic a successful one today when he went one-two in the $1,000 Holistic Animal Healing Clinic Masters Jumper Classic results. On his first horse Crusader, a nine-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Cassini I, he set the early winning time of 62.763 seconds. Riding near the end of the class on Fenway, a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Candillo, he was able to lower that winning time to 61.875 seconds with another clear round. Third place went to Tuvalu and Alison Finger, who were clear with a time of 64.347 seconds.

Ahmed Alali and Fenway

Alali and Fenway have been paired together for five years, and this is not the first time they have won at The Jumper Classic. Alali noted, “We’ve won here a couple of times, which is quite suitable given that his name is Fenway and we’re in New England. He really likes the grass. He’s a very nice horse.”

Alali had the advantage of riding his first horse over the course, and stayed with the plan on Fenway. He said, “My plan was to go neatly around the fences and go fast enough, but not too fast to have rails. We wanted a neat once around. He has a giant stride, and it helps around the course, but in the lines you have to be careful not to eat the distances.”

Ahmed Alali and Fenway in their awards presentation with Bridget Kearns of The Jumper Classic and Dr. Regina Downey from Holistic Animal Healing Center

He has ridden Crusader since last year and compared his two horses, “Fenway has a bit more footspeed, so in a class like this he’s a bit more competitive than the other one. Fenway is more like a racecar, and Crusader is more like the dependable, luxury car.”

“I love this area, I love this horse show,” Alali said. “It’s always good to come here and do this class. I’m very happy. My trainer, Candice King, is amazing. It’s a good partnership.”

The $2,500 Woodridge Farm Children’s Jumper Classic was the first feature class in the GGT Footing Ring Two. Sidney Cardoza rode Via Vanti to victory. Charles Jacobs and Elphaba, owned by CMJ Sporthorse LLC placed second, while Carnaval Z, ridden by Isabelle Norton and owned by Snowbrook Farm, finished third.

Sidney Cardoza and Via Vanti in their awards presentation

Michael Matice and Lexus captured their third win of the week in the $3,500 Dover Saddlery Adult Jumper Classic. They were able to beat a field of 16 entries. Adele Norton, who rode Chloe Reid LLC’s Queen of Hearts, placed second. Third place went to Crossfire LLC’s Lenny 42, ridden by Kristin Zimmerman.

Michael Matice was honored for a third time with Lexus, pictured with Anna Zygadlo of The Jumper Classic

Additional winners in the GGT Footing Ring Two today were:
1.15m Jumpers:Baltimore, Allison Stawarz, Allison Stawarz
$1,500 1.20m Jumpers: Sante, Katherine Weber, Katherine Weber
$2,500 1.30m Jumpers: Zico T, Chris Kappler, American Equestrian Assoc. II LLC
$750 Watershed Farm LLC Low Children’s/Adult Jumper Classic: Aurora, Ashley Fatur, Ashley Fatur

The Jumper Classic presented by Fidelity Investments and Audi of America concludes tomorrow with the highlight class of the week, the $75,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix. It is preceded by the $15,000 Equine Insurance Speed Stake presented by Great American Insurance Group.

For more information, please visit The Jumper Classic website at www.jumperclassic.com .

Final Results: $12,000 Speed Derby
1.    Laracon, Jeffery Welles, Amanda Gunthel: 86.446
2.    Lennox Lewis 2, Leslie Howard, Leslie Howard: 86.861
3.    Feeling, Leslie Howard, Tammy Marek: 89.302
4.    Top Limit, Francesca Bolfo, Francesca Bolfo: 94.843
5.    Via Veneto, Paul Halpern, Dammerman & Kamine LLC: 96.354
6.    Forever Z, Devin Ryan, Tiffany Avon: 96.812
7.    KM Whatever RV, Dana Scott, Dana Scott: 97.602
8.    Esplanade 7, Candice King, Louisburg Farm: 98.485
9.    Southern River, Jeanne Hobbs, Jeanne Hobbs: 99.658
10.    Arkansas, Hillary Simpson, Palmyra Partners: 114.612
11.    Focus, Cara Raether, Trelawny Farm: 115.336
12.    Don Pedro, JJ Lavieri, Jessica Herman: 116.907

Final Results: $5,000 SmartPak High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic
1.    Nerval de la Batia, Margaret Bopp, Margaret Bopp LLC: 0/0/39.491
2.    Damascus, Chloe Reid, Chloe Reid LLC: 0/0/39.654
3.    Jagger, Greer Hindle, Greer Hindle: 0/0/40.177
4.    Vive La Vie, Zachary Libes, Blue Spruce Farm LLC: 0/4/40.031
5.    Twilight, Katie Cox, Kim Cox: 0/8/43.746
6.    Toulon, Chloe Reid, Chloe Reid LLC: 1/77.310
7.    Veron, Sophie Morner, Lovsta Stuteri: 3/79.110
8.    Chazar, Eugenio Garza, El Milagro: 4/71.026
9.    Cariso, Anna McKnight, Anna McKnight: 4/71.256
10.    Ballistic, Annastelle Cohen, American Equestrian Associates: 4/73.525
11.    Clapton, Martin Guerra, Gabriel Guerra: 4/75.151
12.    Bull Run’s Becky Blue, Madeline McDermott, Bull Run Jumpers LLC: 16/88.736

Final Results: $5,000 Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic
1.    Catina del Masset, Natalie Horween, Natalie Horween: 0/0/35.864
2.    U2, Francesca Bolfo, Francesca Bolfo: 0/0/37.411
3.    Barisme VDL, Zachary Libes, Blue Spruce Farm LLC: 0/0/38.835
4.    La Vie Este Belle, Megan McDermott, Megan McDermott: 0/4/35.802
5.    Cuba van het Lindehof, Allyson Shryoc, Allyson Shryoc: 0/4/37.278
6.    VDL Groep Advill, Sarah Hubbard, Sarah Hubbard: 0/8/36.865
7.    King of Hearts, Chloe Reid, Chloe Reid LLC: 1/66.197
8.    Lysco H, Allyson Shryoc, Allyson Shryoc: 2/67.043
9.    Sundance, Sophie Morner, Lovsta Stuteri: 2/67.828
10.    Tiffany, Monica Carrera, Monica Carrera
11.    Skara Glen’s For Freedom, Mariana Savoage, Harthill Farm: 4/64.869
12.    Carburn Royal Exchange, Porter Allen, Stateside Farm: 4/65.426

Final Results: $1,000 Holistic Animal Healing Center Masters Jumper Classic
1.    Fenway, Ahmed Alali, AAA Equestrian LLC: 0/61.875
2.    Crusader, Ahmed Alali, AAA Equestrian LLC: 0/62.763
3.    Tuvalu, Alison Finger, Alison Finger: 0/64.347
4.    Cinemax, Jim Buchanan, Mary Lou Cassone: 0/67.026
5.    Piccolino, Caroline Young, Caroline Young: 0/72.259
6.    Justice, Nina Simons, Nina Simons: 4/58.461
7.    OKE Tag, Carolyn Lackey, OKE Group: 4/66.158
8.    Eurostar, Jeff Papows, Jeff Papows: 4/68.672

The Jumper Classic® presented by Fidelity Investments® and Audi of America, now in its 23rd year, annually attracts some of the nation’s most elite equestrian athletes as well as international competitors.  The show offers five days of competition and culminates in the premier event, the $75,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix, held on one of the top grass grand prix fields on the east coast. For more information on The Jumper Classic, please visit www.jumperclassic.com .

PHOTO CREDIT:  Photos © Tammy Hardy Photography. These photos may only be used in relation to this press release and with full photo credit.

WEBSITE: www.jumperclassic.com , Press Releases and Photos are available for download.